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The Dynamic Structure of Phonographic Space
Art Studies and Architectural Journal (ASAJ), Volume 2, Sep 2017

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This paper examines how spatial staging of sounds in modern popular music recordings are conceptualised and experienced. Recently popular music studies have turned to the study of sounds in space. This can be understood as a way to recognize the impact of recording and postproduction techniques, which allows a fuller appreciation of the distinct spatial logic of recorded sounds. Mapping out phonographic space involves several problems primarily related to the fact that auditory spatial cues found on recordings are dissimilar to the spatial cues we experience in the physical world. The spatial characteristics on recordings are instead, I will argue, a composite of many different environmental characteristics and dynamic force structures. Studio technology and recording practice are seldom part of the way music is conceptualized. In this paper I will present results from a study I have conducted exposing metaphorical expressions in interviews with sound recording engineers. This study revealed that sound engineers often think in force dynamics when describing the inner workings of an audio mix. Using Lakoff and Johnsons work on cognitive linguistics as a guide, I will argue that metaphors offer an alternative medium for understanding the structure and manifestation of phonographic space.

Author(s): Mads Walther-Hansen
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